Archive for the ‘Business & Work’ Category

Some of you will know that the past 6 months have been to say the least traumatic here.  Alfie had a major heart attack back at the beginning of October.  The recovery process has not been totally smooth, with many set backs along the way.  He had his most recent heart surgery just 2 weeks ago, and so far this seems to have worked, but we won’t know for certain until mid-May.

As you can imagine all of this has played havoc with pig farming and pork sales.

We ran out of pork supplies around Christmas.

Thankfully we had been in the process of re-stocking and introducing new stock when the first heart attack struck, so had reduced stock to just 2 sows.

All of this has led us to re-evaluate our lives and examine how we can best continue doing something we enjoy, but with a lower stress level!

We are sharing our thoughts here, and hoping you will give us your input, please!

Our plan is to restructure how we sell the pork, rather than selling pork boxes in 4 kg. boxes.

Our questions to you…

Would you pre-order a full or half of a pig?  A full pig would be approx. 60 kgs.

Would you commit to doing so in advance?  You would be given a date – in October/November – when your meat would be ready.

We would grow the pig ethically, organically and free-range for you.  You would receive your meat butchered and freezer ready.

We would love to hear your opinion and thoughts as to whether this is something you would consider.

Read Full Post »

Most of you who follow on Facebook etc. will be aware that these past few months have been challenging on the health front here.

Alfie had a heart attack at the end of September which among many other factors hit us with regard to supplying hams to our usual Christmas customers. When we realised that we were faced with possibly disappointing our regular customers, I contacted them all, explained the situation to try to establish what their needs were.

Everyone was so understanding, and for once luck was on our side… a lot of our regulars were travelling for Christmas and would not need hams. Therefore, what little hams we had we could share among those staying at home.

We chatted with some other producers to see how they were fixed for supplies, because we knew we would have calls all the way up to Christmas.

One producer came up trumps and said he had plenty and would be delighted to supply.

We duly recommended him to many ….. mostly new to us, so we were going to miss out on possibly supplying them beyond Christmas  He was being handed new customers on a plate as such.

Then, we got the call from family (we’d forgotten to ask them if they needed ham!!!). Yes, they wanted a ham….. and ‘NO’ we did not have one.

Rather than disappoint family, we contacted said producer, explained that it was for family and could he help? He’d be delighted to…. no problem…. although delivery would be Christmas week.

Oldfarm Christmas Ham


Money paid …. full price paid.

And, yes, you’ve guessed it….. NO HAM ARRIVED.

Despite endless text messages, phone calls, emails, over several days ….. this chap did not answer a single call.

Now what would you think?

Alfie suggested that maybe he’s been in an awful car crash or something?

I feel…. he’s excuse better be along those lines.

He has disappointed me as a customer.

He has embarrased me to my family.

He has totally embarrassed us to potential customers…… did they get their hams? Do they think we operate our business like this?

What would you think?

Read Full Post »


I hate to admit defeat, but I really don’t get Snapchat.

I understand how it works.

I just don’t understand how it can work for business.

Snapchat logo

Snapchat logo

What’s the point of spending time recording something that will ‘disappear’ in 24 hours?  It just doesn’t make sense.

Is it not more useful to use Vine, Instagram, Periscope, YouTube?

I know you can store your ‘story’ and re-post it again and again, but what is the point?

I’ve done so much research into this, and nothing so far has convinced me or given me any idea of the benefits.

I’ve never been so stumped by a new ‘app’.  I don’t want to be considered as being ‘closed’ to new technologies.

Does anyone have a good reason why business should be using ‘SnapChat’? Can anyone explain it to me?  I would love to hear your thoughts.


Read Full Post »

I am willing to admit to being a bit of a nerd, and enjoying most social media platforms.  The latest addition – Snapchat, has left me a bit cold – I just can’t seem to get into it at all…..

However, I do enjoy Twitter and Instagram immensely.  Do you have favourite ones?

For my sins over the past 18 months I’ve volunteered and acted as ‘curator’ on some national accounts. Have you ever done this?  It is all a bit daunting initially but then once you get into the swing of it, it can be lots of fun.  And you do get to ‘meet’ lots of generally nice people.

The first account I was curator on was ‘TweetingFarmers’, which subsequently evolved into @IrelandsFarmers.  ‘TweetingFarmers” was a fun account.  It’s purpose was to introduce the customer to what farming is all about, so that they would know how much work goes into producing the food that is going into their weekly shopping cart.  I think I was among the first to curate on that account.  I really hadn’t a clue what to expect. I needn’t have worried.  It went really well.

Last year I also did a week tweeting on @IrelandsFarmers account.  That was best described as ‘interesting’.  When I brought up the subject of Genetically Modified Organisms, I opened such a can of worms!  Let’s just say that the majority of the followers on the account (mostly farmers) did not agree with my stance against gmo’s.  It would seem that most farmers believe gmo’s will save the planet!  A bit scary really.

Possibly the hardest curating was doing a week in December on the Instagram account of @FarmsnotFactories. As you know Instagram is very visual and all photographs.  The only reason it was difficult was the weather!  Oh my lord, the weather.  It was wet and muddy and not really conducive to taking photographs!  I got through the week, but had to be creative and use some old photos.

Smallholders Ireland

Smallholders Ireland

The latest week I did was on @SmallholderIrl.  This is a very new account, and I was privileged to be the first to curate on the account.  Again, it was great to ‘meet’ some new people, most of whom were again really nice and chatty – there was just one exception – but we shall not go there.

Curating on each of these accounts has definitely increased our own profile.  We have picked up new followers every time.  Of course, there are rules – or more ‘dos and don’ts’ – when you are running the account.  It is not about self-promotion.  It is acceptable to promote your product, but a ‘hard sell’ would not be appropriate.

The folks at Smallholders Ireland are actively seeking people to commit to a week. They would love to have artisan food producers; those who aspire to be self-sufficiency; in fact anyone who is passionate about doing what they can to grow their own food.   You don’t have to have huge acreage… just a passion for growing and talking 🙂

Go on give them a shout – the email address is in the photo above, or at the very least give them a follow.




Read Full Post »

Any of you who have received a delivery of Oldfarm Pork will be familiar with our insulated delivery boxes.  While the boxes work extremely well for delivery, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve deliberated over the fact that they aren’t very ‘environmentally’ friendly.

delivery boxes ready to go

delivery boxes ready to go


We’ve tried to work out a system where they could be returned…. but have always drawn a blank on that.

We’ve done research into biodegradable boxes, and, yes, they are available, but folks the cost!!!  Not just the cost of each individual box but the cost to us as you have to buy hundreds of boxes at a time and where would we store them???

It was fun then last week to get the following email from a customer:

 I’ve always wanted to try ‘sous-vide’ cooking, but not enough to pay five hundred euros to buy a proper sous-vide cooker. So I experimented. 

Using the insulated box you sent me my pork in, and a meat thermometer with a sharp probe, and a fillet steak already vacuum packed from Lidl. I heated water in a pan to 60 degrees C, poured it into your insulated box, popped in the steak still sealed in the pack from the shop, and poked the thermometer in through the  side of the box so that it reached into the water. Temperature was fifty seven or so and stayed at that temperature for an hour or so, long enough to cook my steak. Then I seasoned it and flash fried it to get a nice brown outside. Perfect, perhaps the best steak I ever ate.

Mike, I love your ingenuity.

Then I remembered another customer telling me they had used one of their boxes as a flower pot.  Look at this photo Maja sent me – she has a cape goose berry and flowers growing in hers.

Cape Gooseberry flourishing in an insulated box

Cape Gooseberry flourishing in an insulated box

So have any of our other customers found interesting ways of recycling/upcycling our delivery boxes?

We’d love to hear …. and it would certainly to partially salve our conscious about the environmental impact.

Thank you!




Read Full Post »

to Tom and Heather at Caravantasia…. it’s a wonderful new caravan site with a difference that has started up in Crohan nr. Killenaule outside Thurles.  You’ll just love the quirky vintage caravans that have been lovingly restored and each has its own beautifully colour co-ordinated deck area.

Yellow Vintage Caravan

Yellow Vintage Caravan


Red Vintage Caravan

Red Vintage Caravan

We spent a lovely few hours at Caravantasia yesterday… and the weather JUST managed to hold off for most of the day.

We enjoyed sessions with Wesley on how to make your own organic charcoal…. real easy when you know how 🙂

Charcoal making

Charcoal making

The afternoon was spent with Gary learning how to build a clay oven, so hopefully our own will soon start to take shape!  The plinth for it has been ready for quite a while. 🙂

Loved the wooden-framed bicycles from Woodelo and the chainsaw wood-sculpting was pretty amazing too.

Woodelo wooden bike frames

Woodelo wooden bike frames


Wood Carving

Wood Carving

I was so busy chatting and catching up with folks from Tipperary Green Business Network that I didn’t really get to take many photos – besides the fact that I let my camera fall and have damaged the lens, which I am praying frantically can be fixed.  However, lets not dwell on that today.  It was really great to catch up Brian (Biofinch), Sean (Cloncannon Biofarm) and Kate (TGBN).

Our best wishes to Tom and Heather on their new venture.

Read Full Post »

Remember my rant just 11 days ago about my mobile phone and lack of customer service from Samsung?  Well, folks, it has got worse.  Truly.



I think the Worst Customer Service Award in the World can now be awarded to Three.



Let me fill you in.

I finally got what is called a PRN number from Samsung a few days after my rant post.  They told me to contact Three who would arrange the replacement phone through some ‘PRN’ arrangement – which as I understand it, means Three replace my phone, and Samsung replace the phone to Three.

The past week went like this.

  • Initial phone call made to Three – spoke to some nice charming man in India – who asked me to forward the confirmation email that I had received from Samsung.
  • I did this.
  • I got an email back saying Three don’t accept ‘forwarded’ emails!  What????  Could I do a screenshot?
  • I did screenshot and attached this to the email (there was a request to keep the email thread going!).
  • A different person responded to say they hadn’t got attachment
  • This went on for about 10 emails…. each time from a different person in India.
  • Eventually contacted Three in Ireland via Twitter who ‘would look into it’.
  • Friday evening last I got an email from India saying they don’t have a ‘PRN’ arrangement with Samsung.
  • Monday morning contacted Three Ireland via twitter asking for a phone number or email address to speak to someone in Ireland directly – gave them my number so they could contact me.
  • Various dm’s but no phone call, nor no contact number given.
  • Yesterday, Wednesday, I had a call from India again.  They want me to send the phone to Fonemenders again for verification that it doesn’t work!!!!!
  • Tried the person behind the Twitter account again.  And you know what they are saying to me now?  That I should go and talk directly to Samsung as they have said they would replace it!!!

I can tell you I was extremely angry with the final call from India.  He could actually track the worksheet from Fonemenders and yet wanted me to send it off again!

Why would I send it off again to a company who have already examined the phone and sent it back ‘fixed’….. it wasn’t/isn’t fixed.  I have no faith in Fonemenders. Their by-line is laughable.



The response from Three twitter has to be almost laughable, if I wasn’t so angry. Their idea of customer service is to pass the buck!

Just a snippet of today's twitter conversation

Just a snippet of today’s twitter conversation

Oh and by the way….. yesterday I also tagged Samsung Ireland and Fonemenders in various tweets.  Did any of them respond?  Not on your nelly!

Do any of these ‘mobile’ phone people do customer service?

I have the phone 18 months.  Bought it from Three.  Have been paying them handsomely each month.

And they are just ignoring me!!!!!!!!!

The fight is not yet over.  As you can imagine, I really do not give a tuppenny hoot who replaces my phone.  I just want it replaced.


Has anyone had good experience with these companies?  I’d love to hear of your experiences.

And, of course, would be thrilled if you spread the word about this shoddy service 🙂

Rant over (for now).


Read Full Post »

Your customer service sucks.

When I got my Samsung Galaxy S3, I loved it.  That was 18 months ago.  Will I ever buy a Samsung product again?  Doubtful!

My problem started the first weekend in February.  My phone would sometimes charge, sometimes not.  On Saturday 8th February on advice given to me by your Irish Twitter person, I rang the help line.  We went through hours (literally) of calls back and forth on that day, as his computer wasn’t working properly.

I should have taken that as an omen.

It was eventually agreed I should send my phone away to be checked.

The ‘special envelope’ arrived, and I sent my phone away on Tuesday 18th February, not knowing how long it would take for it to come back.

I was thrilled to bits when it arrived back on Friday 21st.  Wow, I thought what service!

That delight was short-lived.

By Monday or Tuesday of the following week, the phone was acting up again, but the problem had escalated… now the screen was freezing, the phone was switching off…. I could go on.

Again your Twitter operator in Dublin came to my help and a chap from your Dublin office (I have his name) rang me and we went through the motions of discussing the problem. He promised he would call me back when he had looked into it. Nothing happened for days.  I left various voice messages and nothing happened. Eventually on 26th February I spoke to a different chap (I have his name too!). He told me he’d have to check the records and be back to me “in half an hour, an hour at most.”

I’d like to point out that at this stage the phone was so untrustworthy, I had given these guys my landline number.

He never rang me back!!!!

As you will appreciate I was really annoyed and angry at this stage.  I made more and more phone calls and eventually spoke to chap no. 2 who told me my phone was approved for replacement and I would receive a call with an ‘authorisation code’ in 48 hours.

That, dear folks, was on 28th February.  No phone call came.

Another week of making phone calls…. this time I got to speak to chap no. 1 again. He did at least try to ring me put my Samsung Galaxy S3 is virtually dead at this stage, and I couldn’t answer his calls.  He left me a message saying I would be getting a replacement phone… and I’d get the ‘authorisation code’ from UK in 48 hours.   48 hours passed no phone call.

Following a tweet I put out, I got a tweet from Dublin telling me UK are very busy!!!!!

Do I care?  No I don’t.  I need my phone replaced.

The third 48 hour phone call period I was promised expired on Monday 7th March.

I have made a decision not to call you…. just to see how shoddy your customer service is.  How long can you possibly take to issue an ‘authorisation code’.  You’ve declared my phone unfit for purpose.

My phone is a business tool…. it was meant to be a MOBILE business tool.

It is not MOBILE now, it has to be plugged in at all times.




Read Full Post »

As if I needed prompting!

This is what was said to me just a few months after I lost my job in 2009…. just at a time when I was job searching and trying to find a way to make a living.

I knew this person, and they knew my circumstances.  They were then, and still are, working in the public service for over 20 years.  Take a 2 week foreign holiday every year, change their car annually,  and are on a damn fine salary and pension.

I remember standing in front of her, wondering is she in the real world at all?  I was too dumbfounded to even respond.

Looking down over the valley

Looking down over the valley

In the past few months I have been angered by people who have approached us and asked us to work for ‘free’.

We both do our fair share of volunteering and are glad to do it.

However, like everyone else we need to make a living.   Hence the reason I put this up on the blog and on the website.  And, yes, it is tough out there.

There are weeks here when we wonder where the funds are going to come from to feed the pigs.

And yes, we know we are lucky too, as we have a very good life, and are luckier than some.

We’ve had people approach and ask us to share how we built the market for the pork.  How we cost and price our product?  One person even wanted us to write the Business Plan for his pork business!!!  I kid you not.

However, perhaps the worst – and I had to calm down substantially before I could write about this – was being approached by a Government agency twice in recent months and asked to write blog posts for FREE!

On the first occasion I decided, in an effort to stay calm, to ignore the email – the topic was not even relevant to any of you, so why would I write about it?

The second time around – the agency was asking me to promote another commercial business – but again I would do so for FREE.  Of course, I would – NOT.

The topic, by the way, would have put me in a difficult position with some other local producers.

I calmed down, and waited overnight to make sure I was calm.  I wrote back and politely said that writing blog posts is what I do to promote our business, and that I occasionally will write a sponsored post, if it ‘fits’ into what we do here.   I explained that while I would be delighted to advise the company on how to use social media, etc. to promote their business, naturally I would have to charge a fee.

To say their response was ‘out of order’ is putting it mildly.  They were actually rude and totally out of line.

You can probably sense that I am still angry!!!!

This all coming from a government agency whose whole remit is to ‘support and assist’ small businesses.

Is it any wonder this country is in the mess it is in?

Read Full Post »

An interesting statement isn’t it?  But it is so so true.  Who grows your fruit and veg?  Who grows the grain for your bread and cakes?  Who grows your meat?

Farmers feed families….. farmers of all sorts, feed families of all sorts.

source unknown

source unknown

Sometime back in May a call was put out on twitter looking for farmers to volunteer to tweet for a week about their life on their farm… and so @tweetingfarmers was born.  We immediately signed up and both of us have already done our week of tweeting.

The thought has often struck me ‘would twitter have helped’ during the recent fodder crisis?  Would those despairing farmers have chatted to someone on twitter about their difficulties?  It is often easier to chat to a ‘stranger’ than to embroil family and friends in your crisis and worries.

The idea for Farmers Feed Families and the Tweeting farmers was concieved by Anne Brady and Jessica Zaffino – two ladies living in Dublin who feel people have become totally disconnected about where their food comes from!!!  So fair play to them, they decided to do something about it.

When we had the launch of @TweetingFarmers here in June I took the opportunity to chat to Anne about their plans – where they idea came from, etc.

So here’s their story….

Anne grew up on an organic dairy farm on the Cavan/Longford border where they had a mixed herd of Jersey, Ayrshire and Shorthorns.  Her Dad has been farming organically since 1994 but only went for certification in 2009.

Jess grew up in Canada and did Agricultural Science in college, completing her Masters Degree in the Epidemiology Department.  Her research for her Masters was part of a National Dairy Cow Welfare Assessment.

The girls then meet up in Dublin….and have noticed over the years the lack of  understanding that people have of agriculture and farming in general.  If you haven’t grown up on a farm, you will have little knowledge of what happens on a farm each day, the thought process that goes into producing food and the work and involvement that it takes.   There is a Canadian group called ‘Farmers Feed Cities’ so rather than reinvent the wheel, Anne and Jess decided to start a similar campaign in Ireland – ‘Farmers Feed Families’.

There are major plans afoot to keep this initiative going.  They hope to get companies interested in funding the various projects they have planned.  (Any companies out there want to sponsor a project?  Get in touch with Anne at Farmers Feed Families!)

If you are an urbanite and would like to learn more about the day-to-day running of a farm – dairy, beef, grain, pigs, goats, sheep – follow along on @TweetingFarmers.  This campaign is a wonderful insight into what is going on on a daily basis on farms across the country.  Each week a different farmer takes over and curates the account.  Next week it will be a neighbour of ours – Michael Seymour of Sheepwalk farm – who will be tweeting.

The next project that Farmers Feed Families will be launching is ‘Like Food? Love Farmers!’  The aim of this project is to connect people with their local egg/beef/dairy/etc farmer.

We wish Anne and Jess the very best of luck with their plans and will certainly offer our support in whatever way we can.

Go on, give them a follow on @TweetingFarmers or @LoveIrishFarms

Or better still if you know of any farmers…. get them to join the campaign… let’s get all farmers talking to each other via twitter 🙂


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »